Sydney, Oct 17 (UNI) Chief Executive of Federation of International Cricketers' Associations, Tim May raised fears that Australia's top international cricketers could retire prematurely because of a ''ridiculous'' workload.
Concerns about players' exodus had risen after a News Ltd analysis found they could face an unprecedented 247 days of cricket in the next 21 months.
The rescheduling this week of the Champions Trophy tournament - once billed as the mini-World Cup - to September 2009 means there is unlikely to be a month between now and then when the likes of Ricky Ponting and Brett Lee won't be involved in either international and domestic tournaments.
This taxing schedule includes 26 Tests, up to 59 one-day internationals, 16 Twenty20 internationals and stints in the Indian Premier League and its spin-off, the Champions League.
Mr May fears this will mean more players will quit international cricket when at the peak of their powers in their early 30s to play in lucrative Twenty20 tournaments.
''The Australian Cricketers Association and Cricket Australia must try and resolve how they are going to manage the players' workload because anyone can see it's reasonably ridiculous,'' Mr May said yesterday.
''We know of a number of players who are considering premature retirement to play in the IPL, Champions League, and other similar tournaments.
''They've had enough. They can't squeeze any more time away from home out of themselves. This is a growing issue and FICA acknowledges that the players had added to the problem by playing in the IPL, but the problem already existed,'' he said.
''We are in danger of losing a considerable number of good players which means there will be second-rate teams and international cricket will no longer be the best versus the best.
''The attractiveness of the IPL is that it can free up time for players while increasing their earning capacity.
''With the number of matches and the time spent away from home, the increased media, promotion and sponsorship commitments, the whole package is getting to the stage where players will no longer be able to do it,'' he added.
UNI XC CS SW HT1225